I recently wrote an article on the Christian comedy film The Resurrection Of Gavin Stone getting its release date. I spoke about Dallas Jenkins, director of What If, starring Kevin Sorbo. I had the pleasure of conducting an email interview with Mr. Jenkins himself and his latest film. Check out the interview below. His answers are in bold.
Where did the idea for The Resurrection of Gavin Stone come from?
The creator of a popular church Biblical multi-media production called The Thorn came up with the idea of a film about the making of a show like that. It then led to the idea of telling the story through the eyes of an outsider. When I heard the idea of a movie about an outsider pretending to be a Christian so he can play Jesus, I loved it, and I came onboard and helped tweak the script with the writer, Andrea Nasfell.
Who did the music score for the film?
Jeehun Hwang, who I’ve worked with a couple times before.
Is there significance behind the character’s name Gavin Stone?
Not really, I don’t think, it just sounds cool. ☺
Did the script go through many rewrites?
No more than normal. It took a little time to find the right tone, combining a lot of comedy with genuine emotion and meaning. We didn’t want it to be slapstick or mean.
Andrea Nasfell has written for several films. What was it like working with her?
We work great together, I think we complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and she puts up with my weird ideas and constant tweaking.
How long did production take?
Pre-production (casting, hiring crew, choosing locations, etc.) took about six weeks, and the shooting took four weeks.
Brett Dalton is known for playing a roguish agent and later main villain on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. How was the transition from spymaster to comedic actor?
When my son (a big SHIELD fan) suggested him, I wasn’t sure he’d be right for it because there isn’t much of “Gavin” in Grant Ward. But his audition was terrific, he absolutely loved the script, and he was fantastic in the role. He’s got all the colors, and his comedic timing is fantastic.
When did WWE Films get involved?
They’ve been involved from the beginning; they loved the script and wanted to partner with us on this. They’ve been great partners, they’ve provided their expertise and experience and allowed us to provide ours.
Anjelah Johnson is known for her television appearances and her comedy. What was it like working with her for this feature film?
She’s amazing, and this role was difficult. She’s the “straight man,” as her character is notoriously too serious and unable to tell jokes. Plus, in the first half of the film, her character is pretty tight and cold and very resistant to Gavin, longer than the audience is. But I loved watching her character grow and transition.
I believe comics make great actors because they understand timing and emotion so well. She nailed it.
Vertical Church Films is producing Gavin Stone. Why did they choose this film?
We love the church! And this movie is a love letter to the power and impact of church to transform someone’s life, especially when we’re authentic and vulnerable about our weaknesses and willing to laugh at our quirks.
Why did you decided to helm Gavin Stone?
I love fish out of water stories, especially this one because I think this is a unique film that appeals to both churchgoers and outsiders. Churchgoers will appreciate the inside jokes and seeing themselves humorously but affectionately portrayed, and outsider will identify with the main character and see the story through his eyes.
How was the production different from your other films?
I’ve done all my other films independently, and I was the final decisionmaker. Doing this one with Hollywood companies who had a lot more tools and toys to work with, and also with me not as the boss, was a major difference. It had its strengths and weaknesses, but it made me a better man and filmmaker, and it made the film better. It’s easily my best film.
Were you involved in the writing?
Very much so in the latter stages. I always do the last rewrites on my films. I’m not a screenwriter per se, but I think I’m a good rewriter, and for better or worse, I feel the film needs to reflect my voice.
Did you always picture yourself as a director?
I was going to be a sports broadcaster until I saw One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in high school and realized I wanted to make movies.
One final question, do you plan to work with Brett Dalton or Anjelah Johnson in the future?
I sure hope so!
That concluded our interview. The Resurrection of Gavin Stone premiers in theaters January 20th, 2017. Check it out on Facebook and Twitter for more information and see the trailer below. Like and share this post and don’t forget to subscribe for more upcoming interviews.